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Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on October 4, 2017 under AM Bible Study |

AM Bible Study Group; October 4, 2017 from Ephesians 6:21-24

Theme: Our family spirit in Christ is shown in the things that we sincerely desire for each other.

(All Scripture is taken from The New King James Version, unless otherwise indicated).

We now come to the closing words of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. And what a fruitful letter it has been to study! It has set forth God’s eternal purpose to choose us for Himself in Christ and to bless us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Him. A careful study of this book together—when coupled with faithful prayer for one another—ought to leave us discontent to behave like anything less than the Body of Christ on earth; to be our beloved Savior’s hands and feet and lips and heart-beat upon earth; to lovingly minister to one another’s needs in the power of the Holy Spirit; to appreciate anew for one another’s giftedness to the body as a whole; to yearn for one another’s growth and edification—and all so that the world looks on and sees that we live such a unique life together that it can’t help but ask for an explanation.

There has been a great deal of lofty theology in this letter—enough to keep theologians busy throughout the centuries. But as we come to Paul’s closing words, we find it all applied in a very warm, compassionate and loving way. Paul expresses his desire for his believing brothers’ and sisters’ encouragement and comfort, and for their fullness in the experience of God’s blessings. This is a great demonstration of our own love for one another in Christ, too. As Paul’s closing words show us, our family spirit in Christ is shown in what we desire for one another.

Note that …


Paul begins by saying, “But that you also may know my affairs and how I am doing …” (v. 21a). This follows on the heels of what he had been saying in verses 19-20; where he asked for his readers to pray for him that utterance would be given to him; and that he might open his mouth ‘boldly’ to speak as he ought to speak, and that he was “an ambassador in chains”. In 3:1, he said that he was “the prisoner of Christ for you Gentiles”; and in 3:13, he urged them not to “lose heart” at his tribulations for them. These believing friends would have been praying much for him; and would have had a great deal of concern for him. And so, he was very compassionate to them in letting them know how he was. He knew that their hearts were so bound to him that it would be unloving for him to not let them know of his circumstances. It would also be unloving not to keep them informed; because Paul had made it clear that he was suffering these things for the cause of Christ’s love for them.

And for this reason, he told them, “Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make all things known to you …’” (v. 21b). Tychicus was the faithful messenger that Paul sent to encourage these believers. He had also sent Tychicus to the saints in Colossae. In Colossians 4:7; Paul called him “a beloved brother, faithful minister, and fellow servant in the Lord”. And so, Tychicus was sent on mission to encourage the Colossian believers just as he was to the recipients of the letter we’re studying. Tychicus was, in a sense, Paul’s ambassador of good cheer; because he traveled throughout Asia Minor on Paul’s behalf, visiting different cities, reading Paul’s letters to the believers in various house churches that were in them, and encouraging the believers with an eye-witness account of Paul’s situation. It is a great honor to be a ‘Tychicus’ on behalf of someone to the people of God!

Paul doesn’t go into much detail at all in this letter about his situation; and that’s most likely because he knew that Tychicus would be faithful to fill the believers in. And that’s why Paul writes of Tychicus; “whom I have sent to you for this very purpose, that you may know our affairs, and that he may comfort your hearts” (v. 22). Paul’s primary concern in this was to comfort and encourage his brethren (perhaps with stories of victory as we find in Philippians 1:12-18). If we, likewise, are truly of a family spirit with one another, we wont be satisfied with only an occasional encounter with each other. We will call one another, write to one another, spend time with one another, pray for and with one another, and keep one another informed of our doings and our trials and our victories. We will share one another’s burdens, and build one another up in Christ. We will act on the kind of attitude Paul described in Philippians 2:1-4;

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others (Philippians 2:1-4).

Our family spirit isn’t only shown in seeking one another’s comfort, though. It goes much further than that. As we read on, we see that …


Paul exemplifies this as well. His closing words constitute a benediction that is composed of prayer-wishes for his brethren. And those prayer-wishes have specific content. First he desires for them to have peace. He writes, “Peace to the brethren”; and that being “from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 23). Earlier in the letter, Paul wrote about how God brought peace about for the two most divided groups in the world—Jew and Gentile. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace …” (Ephesians 2:13-14). And this peace has its beginning point in the fact that Jesus first brought about peace with God through the cross (v. 16); and then came and preached peace to those of us who were “afar off” (i.e. the Gentiles), and to those of us who were “near” (i.e., the Jewish people) (v. 17). We should be “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” that Christ has brought about (4:3). No wonder this is a thing for us to desire for one another!

We should also, like Paul, desire another blessing for one another; and that is “love with faith” (v. 23); again being “from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”. This also has God as it’s source; having begun with God’s act of love toward us in Christ—raising us from spiritual death to new life in Christ “because of His great love with which He loved us” (2:4). Because of His love for us and our faith in that act of love, we are to be joined in a common bond of love and faith in the truth—not love without faith in the truth (because that would be hypocrisy), nor faith in the truth without love (because that would be harsh and cruel), but with both love and faith in the truth joined together in a perfect union in Christ. This sort of combination is a blessing in Christ that should be part of our prayers for one another too; because it leads to growth of the body. As Paul describes in 4:14-16;

that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love (Ephesians 4:14-16).

And finally, we should be like Paul and desire grace for each other. Grace is God’s favor being poured out upon us as a free gift through Christ—or as someone has put it very well in the form of an acronym; “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense”. Paul closed with these words: “Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen” (v. 24). Paul’s first affirmation in this letter was that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (1:3); and he later affirmed that these great spiritual blessings are ours not as a result of works, but as a result of God’s grace (2:8-9). On the basis of God’s grace alone, all His rich blessings are granted freely to those who are characterized by a love for Jesus that is “in sincerity” or (as it is in the New International Version) “with an undying love” or (as it is in the English Standard Version) “with love incorruptible”. This is a love for Jesus that is real, and that will never diminish, and that will never be spoiled. This unchanging love for Jesus is not the wage by which we earn God’s favor; but rather is the mark of those who have been made the recipients of His grace. No wonder, then, we should wish and pray this for one another!

* * * * * * * * * *

As the final words of this letter show us, there is no better test of our family spirit in Christ than the things we desire for one another—and specifically, the wonderful riches that this letter proclaims to us are ours in Christ. May God help us to desire each others’ comfort and encouragement in our trials and in our labors for Christ; and more … the fullness of each others’ blessedness in the riches of Christ.

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